Chef Brian Siren

For the Newark native, Brian McBride, his dad had one simple rule:  his sons needed to learn about responsibility and that came with working, beginning with a summer job at age 14.  Smart man, because it kept him out of trouble.  Young Brian landed in a restaurant washing dishes, the life stuck, and he rose right to the top of the Washington culinary scene.

His first step toward making the after-school gig a professional reality was heading off to Providence for an intensive 12-month program at Johnson & Wales.  It opened up a whole world of cuisine for McBride, who realized that this was a job he could do for 100 years - and still be learning.  Sure enough, a third of a century later, he still is.

Right out of school, McBride landed a job in Cambridge at the Empress Room at the Hyatt, then at the cutting edge of the hot trend that became known as Asian Fusion.  After a while, his career with Hyatt brought him to London, where for six months he was immersed in the world of traditional French cuisine at CarltonTowers.  A brief break from Hyatt found him working in Cuernavaca, Mexico at Las Mañanitas, a Relais & Châteaux property, creating authentic Mexican cuisine; for three years afterward, McBride remained on board as a consulting chef. 

Returning to the Hyatt, he opened The Park Hyatt Washington, DC in 1986 - and stayed on for 26 years, the last 20 of which he served as executive chef, overseeing food service throughout the hotel. Melrose, the hotel's signature fine dining restaurant, became a Washingtoninstitution, renowned for its nouvelle cuisine and the Asian fusion menu that McBride developed from his experience at the Empress Room.  After nineteen years, he created the celebrated Blue Duck Tavern that took Washington by storm.  Its down-to-earth dedication to farm-freshness and time-honored techniques in an atmosphere of elegant simplicity earned McBride top accolades and a reservation list a mile long.

For over the course of all those years, he formed a close bond with fellow chef Robert Wiedmaier, whose career paralleled his own in the Washington hotel world before Wiedmaier opened Marcel's, the #1 restaurant in town, according to Zagat. The friendly rivalry between Marcel's and Blue Duck Tavern for top spot melted away in 2011, when the two friends decided to become partners.  For McBride, being released from the demanding administration of multiple hotel outlets means a long-awaited opportunity to concentrate on cuisine.  For Wiedmaier, it means a partner with exceedingly high organizational skills, who shares his commitment to traditional culinary values. 

McBride joins Wiedmaier as Partner-Chef, with an immediate focus on re-establishing the strong brasserie presence of Brasserie Beck.  Revising the menu with all the dedication to integrity of ingredients and technique for which he was known at Blue Duck Tavern, he is all about getting back to 'real food.'  "It means taking farm fresh local product, and treating it in a rustic, rural, often time-consuming style of cooking.  That's what traditional Flemish cooking is all about - same approach, different geography."  Revealing a key addition to the menu, he explains, "take a cassoulet: it takes an entire day to make it right, and another day or two to reach optimum flavor."  Old-style French cuisine, he points out, is not so far from old-style American cooking: how different are a classic Pot-de-Feu and a Yankee pot roast, after all?  He is also bringing back the old fashioned plats du jour system to build a loyal following for daily specials, like a Monday Côte de Boeuf for two with au gratin potatoes and squash purée with maple syrup.